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Research Impact

What are author metrics?

bar graphAuthor metrics are measures of the influence and productivity of an author or researcher. While not perfect, an author's impact is determined by several factors  -- mainly, how often they are cited and what types of journals or publications they are cited in. Below please find an overview of the metrics that are currently being used to measure an author's research impact.

Author Citation Tracking

Citation tracking looks at the number of times a particular work or author have been cited in the bibliographies of other works. This gives some indication of how the author has been received by the academic community. Large numbers of citations are associated with greater impact and more influence. 

By demonstrating where and how one's work has been cited, author citation metrics can:

  • Identify key authors in a field
  • Indicate an author's perceived value in that field
  • Discover who is doing related work
  • Track the published works of colleagues, collaborators or competitors
  • Be used for purposes of hiring, tenure or promotion

Article and author level citation counts are available on Web of Science, Google Scholar, PLoS, BioMed Central and some discipline-specific databases.

 Web of Science provides citation counts for articles in more than 10,000 journals in the sciences, social sciences, humanities and arts. The journals that are indexed are typically the most consistently high impact titles in many disciplines. Web of Science Cited Reference Searching (video tutorial)  

Google Scholar provides citation counts for articles found within Google Scholar. You will likely find more cited references because it is less selective in what it indexes and covers more journals and publication types than other databases. You must create a profile in Google Scholar to see the times your articles have been cited.  Google Scholar Citations

Note: No single database will provide complete information about all of an author's citations. To get the most comprehensive count, it is best to check both Web of Science and Google Scholar since each database indexes different journals and publications.

h-Index

Proposed by J.E. Hirsch in 2005, the h-index is calculated through a formula that considers not only the number of publications but also the number of citations per publication. A measure of author influence, the h-index is the point where the number of articles published by an author intersects on a graph with the number of citations for each article. For example, an author with an h-index of 10 has published 10 papers that have been cited at least 10 times each. A complicated mathematical formula, the h-index is calculated for you in Web of Science. It is also available on Google Scholar if you have created a user profile.

Finding an author's H-Index in Web of Science (video tutorial)    

h-index graph

Other Indices

g-index: Related to the h-index, the g-index is calculated based on the distribution of citations received by a given researcher's publication adding more weight to highly cited articles. Developed by Leo Egghe in 2006, the g-index centers on "Lotka’s Law". The premise of this law is that as the number of articles published increases, the authors producing that many publications decreases. The difference between the h and g index is that while the top h papers can have many more citations than the h-index would suggest, the g-index is the highest number g of papers that together received g2 or more citations. This means that the g-index score will be higher than that of the h-index. 

i10-Index: A very simple measure, developed in 2011, the i10-index was introduced by and is used only by Google Scholar. The i10-index measures an author's publications with at least 10 citations.

Publish or Perish (PoP)

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Publish or Perish (PoP) from Harzing.com is a free software program that calculates numerous research metrics based on Google Scholar data. Once downloaded, this tool can calculate author metrics that include: total number of papers, total number of citations, average number of citations per paper, average number of citations per author, average number of citations per year, the h-index and related parameters, and the g-index. The goal of Publish or Perish "is designed to empower individual academics to present their case for research impact to its best advantage."

Altmetrics

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Altmetrics or alternative metrics are another way that researchers and authors can assess their impact. These non-traditional measures offer an alternative to the traditional citation impact metrics. Altmetrics tracks the attention that research outputs such as scholarly articles and datasets receive online. These statistics go beyond normal citation counts and pull data from: blogs, social media (Twitter, Facebook, and Google+, etc.), traditional news media (both mainstream and field specific) and online reference managers (Mendeley and CiteULike, etc.).    Image result for altmetrics clip art

There are both fee-based altmetric vendors (altmetric.com and plum analytics) and free altmetric sources (altmetrics.org) available online. Several publishers have started providing altmetric information on their platforms including BioMedPLOS, Nature Publishing Group, Ebsco and Elsevier Science Direct.  

BU LIbraries

Guide Authors

Paula Carey
General Science, Engineering, & Mathematics Librarian
pac@bu.edu

Mary Foppiani
Astronomy, Biology, & Physics Librarian
foppiani@bu.edu

Laura Jenemann
Communications, Film, & Media Librarian
ljeneman@bu.edu

Barbara Maratos
Modern Languages, Comparative Literature, & Linguistics Librarian
bkmarato@bu.edu

Kate Silfen
Health Sciences Librarian
ksilfen@bu.edu

Dan Benedetti
Head, Pickering Education Resources Library
benededa@bu.edu